By Elizabeth Zach, RCAC staff writer

Residents in Weed, California, are challenging an Oregon-based timber company that is claiming rights to spring water on land that it owns but that has also supplied the town with drinking water for decades.

Roseburg Forest Products owns the pine forest where the Beaughan Spring flows, and for the past 50 years, it has charged the city of Weed $1 a year to draw from it. Since July, however, it began charging $97,500 annually, and has demanded residents search for new water sources.

The company has not said what it will do with the water it retrieves from Weed, although it already sells water to Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring, which bottles it in Weed and ships it to overseas buyers.

“We were hooked at the hip with this company for years,” Bob Hall, a former mayor of Weed and now a city council member, told The New York Times. “Now, they are taking advantage of people who can’t defend themselves.”

The water battle mirrors others across drought-ridden California, including one over a Nestlé bottling plant last year in Sacramento; critics had argued that the company siphoned off millions of gallons of municipal water to resell it at a profit.

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